Let me describe a game for you: Jerry Garcia of the Grateful Dead descends from Heaven and acid-trips his way through a parking lot, trying to avoid getting busted by the cops as he attempts to hug electric guitars. Sound like fun? Sure. Sound like something Apple would let onto the App Store in a million years? Probably not. But it turns out Apple wasn't always so choosy.
Ars Technica recently interviewed Jason Rainbows, developer of Garcia's Guitars for the Apple Pippin, and the interview paints a picture of a much different (and maybe more lighthearted) mid-1990s Apple. "The Apple Pip-what?" some of you may be asking now, and you can be forgiven for that, because I never heard of it before a couple years ago, either. The Apple Pippin was Apple's aborted attempt at entering the gaming market in the mid-90s, running a version of System 7 on PowerPC hardware.
As was typical of much of Apple's gear during that time, the Pippin was too expensive, too slow, had too little third-party support, and almost no one bought it. It was one of the first Apple products to disintegrate under Steve Jobs's laser gaze when he returned to Apple's top echelons, and as such the product is now little more than the answer to obscure Apple trivia.
However, one interesting bit about the Apple Pippin is that Garcia's Guitars was actually packaged with the device. Apple doesn't include games with any of its iOS devices now, instead relying on users to discover them for themselves on the App Store, and it's hard to imagine the company highlighting a game like Garcia's Guitars today. According to Jason Rainbows, however, "Back then, if I called Apple and stayed on the phone (or bitched long enough), I'd eventually get Steve Jobs or The Woz on the line."
In those days Apple was still fronting itself as a sort of "counterculture" alternative to the PC -- best exemplified by the later "Think Different" campaign -- so while Apple's tacit support for a game like Garcia's Guitars may seem surprising given the company's more "uptight" modern image, it was entirely in character in the company's earlier days.
I never owned (or even saw) a Pippin, nor did I ever play Garcia's Guitars. But while it's nice to see Apple enjoying its top spot on the tech heap today, I'll admit that Ars Technica's interview with Jason Rainbows got me feeling a bit nostalgic for the company's earlier days. Apple had a bit more of a "devil may care" attitude back then, or at least it seems so today. Maybe it didn't do the company any favors when it came to the balance sheets, but I kind of miss the "mellower" Apple described in Ars Technica's article.